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A rocket tested by China fired a projectile at five times the speed of sound in July. US military experts are trying to understand how this is technically possible.

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China launched a rocket in July that orbited the earth in low orbit and then launched a hypersonic glider.

REUTERS

This glider then fired a projectile at five times the speed of sound.  US military experts would try to understand how this is technically possible.

This glider then fired a projectile at five times the speed of sound. US military experts would try to understand how this is technically possible.

Symbolbild / imago images / Xinhua

  • After circling the earth, a glider is said to have fired a projectile at five times the speed of sound.

  • What the fired projectile is used for is still unclear.

  • The US expressed concern about similar missile tests as early as October.

According to media reports, a hypersonic missile system tested by China in the summer fired a projectile itself during the flight. China launched a rocket in July that orbited the earth in low orbit and then launched a hypersonic glider, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing US officials. This glider then fired a projectile at five times the speed of sound.

This is an undertaking that “pushes the boundaries of physics” and which presumably no other country is capable of, the newspaper wrote. According to the report, it is unclear what the purpose of the projectile fired by the hypersonic glider is. It could therefore be used to confuse missile defense systems – or to attack a target yourself.

US concerned about missile test

The “Financial Times” also reported on the projectile fired during the test. US military experts would try to understand how this is technically possible. The US expressed concern over a similar Chinese supersonic missile test in October. The Chief of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Mark Milley, drew a comparison with the so-called Sputnik shock of 1957 – the first completely surprising flight of a Soviet Sputnik satellite through earth orbit for the West.

Hypersonic missiles fly lower

Beijing then denied reports of a supersonic missile test. It was a routine test for “reusable space technology,” said a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry.

The USA, Russia, North Korea and at least four other countries are also working on hypersonic rocket technology. Like ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles can carry nuclear weapons. However, while ballistic missiles fly in a high arc, hypersonic missiles remain in low orbit. They are also remotely controlled and can change their trajectory, which makes launching missile defense systems much more difficult.

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(AFP / roa)

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